Archive for January, 2014

Tinsley Ellis review…January 18, 2013…

TINSLEY ELLIS

MIDNIGHT BLUE

HEARTFIXER MUSIC  HFM  1011

IF THE RIVER KEEPS RISING–MOUTH TURN DRY–SURRENDER–I’TS NOT FUNNY–SEE NO HARM–THE ONLY THING–PEACE AND LOVE–HARDER TO FIND–THAT’S MY STORY–KISS OF DEATH

It’s hard to believe that it has been some thirty years since we first saw a young guitarist named Tinsley Ellis playing an Atlanta club with Chicago Bob Nelson and the Heartfixers.  Even then, Tinsley was a guitar force, and over the years, he has had quitea prolific blues-rock career.

With his latest release on his own Heartfixer Music label,  he has hit on what may well be his strongest set thus far.  Ten originals allow him to stretch out with elements of soul, and even a touch of the Big Easy.

He’s joined by A-listers Kevin McKendree on keys, Ted Pecchio on bass, and Lynn Williams on drums.  An acoustic intro gives way to the apocalyptic prophecies of “If The River Keeps Rising,” as Tinsley’s slide cries out his deepest feelings.  “Mouth Turn Dry” recalls the power of Howlin’ Wolf, while “Peace And Love” flows sweetly over a soulful groove, augmented by Kevin’s organ, and a recurring wah-wah guitar line.

We had two favorites, too.  Tinsley’s slide guitar over a boisterous second-line beat with Kevin doing his best Professor Longhair impression embellishes “It’s Not Funny,” the love story about a ravishing redhead that he “just can’t live without!”  And, a love triangle from the perspective of “the other man” has Tinsley telling the woman “I See No Harm in loving you.”  With Kevin’s piano featured prominently over Tinsley’s testifyin’ vocals, this one has a vintage Ray Charles feel.

Tinsley Ellis’ star burns brighter with each set he has released over his long and lustrous career.  “Midnight Blue” adds to his legacy as one of the best players on the contemporary scene today!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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The Georgia Flood review….January 16, 2014…

THE GEORGIA FLOOD

THE GEORGIA FLOOD

MIDNIGHT CIRCUS PRODUCTIONS

CROSSCUT SAW–BAD TIMES ARE HERE–DUST MY BROOM–ALL YOUR LOVE–STREET WALKING WOMAN–I DON’T WANT NO WOMAN–I THOUGHT I WAS A MAN–I AIN’T SICK–MESSIN’ WITH THE KID–LIE TO ME–SIDETRACKED–HARD LUCK WOMAN

The phrase “oh, to be young again” certainly fits the Georgia Flood band perfectly.  Consisting of brothers Brooks Mason on lead guitar and lead vocals, and Lane Kelly on bass and backing vocals, Brooks is all of 17, and Lane is 21.  The old man of the group is drummer Kyle Egart, who is only 22!  They represented Atlanta GA in the 2013 IBC’s, and they have just released their self-titled full-length debut, and it is a gem, indeed.  Five originals and seven covers offer an overview of their varying styles and sounds, and, as you listen to their youthful exuberance, it makes you realize why you became a blues fan in the first place!

For such a young player, Brooks Mason has a sound knowledge of many of his guitar heroes.  No one hardly ever plays Freddie King’s “Sidetracked” any more, but these fellows rip thru it as if it was written by them.  And, Brooks’ vocals are well beyond his years, too.  Even a seasoned veteran bluesman might have trouble with some of Magic Sam Maghett’s songs, given Sam’s tricky pitch and timbre cahanges, but, on this set, Mason gives a fine read on the minor-key “All Your Love,” while “I Don’t Want No Woman” comes outta the gate swingin’ and never lets up.

The band originals also show a maturity beyond their years as well.  In the Hendrix-like “Bad Times Are Here,” we have to remember that the fellows are all 20-somethings, and haven’t lived long enough to know anything different than “a struggle” and “paycheck to paycheck” in reference to today’s economy.  A love affair that’s on the skids finds the doctor telling Brooks, “I Ain’t Sick, that’s just the blues.”  It’s a fine slow-blueser, with a couple of excellent solos for good measure.  And, the fellows all have a real good time with a soulful, Memphis-styled original, “Lie To Me.”

We had two favorites, too.  Nobody seems to do “Dust My Broom” much any more, either, and it’s one of the songs that started us down the blues path, and Brooks lets his slide ride long and hard on this stompin’ trip “down to East Monroe!”  And, “Thought I Was A Man” has another quirky vocal intonation that Brooks handles with ease, as he tries in vain to figure out just what it is that “all these pretty girls just don’t understand!”

Sheer raw, vibrant, unbridled passion for the music they love that accompanies their youth is what we liked best about The Georgia Flood, followed closely by their varied repertoire.  Stay young as long as you can, fellows, and always bring that fire every time you play!  Until next time…..Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

The Bob Lanza Blues Band review…January 12, 2014…

THE BOB LANZA BLUES BAND

TIL THE PAIN IS GONE

MAUDIE–I’LL TAKE CARE OF YOU–TIL’ THE PAIN IS GONE–SNAKE BYTE–OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN–I’M READY–EVERY NIGHT AND EVERY DAY–BUILD ME A WOMAN–SUGAR SWEET–LONESOME–OUR LIFE–MOJO

Bob Lanza is a renowned guitarist, singer, and composer from the north New Jersey area, having represented the New York Blues And Jazz Society in the 2011 IBC’s.  His fiery fretwork and soulful vocals show a deep passion for the vintage Chicago and Texas sounds, and those influences are all over his latest release, “Til’ The Pain Is Gone,” a Duke’s mixture of originals and covers that pulls in the listener thru his guitar excellence.

Bob is joined by Reverend Sandy Jones on bass, Noel Sagerman on drums, Snakeman Runyan on harp, Doc Wall on keys, and son Jake on guitar as well.  The young Lanza kicks off the proceedings, with the intro, outro, and a solo on the leadoff “Maudie,” Mike Bloomfield’s classic about that “devil woman who ain’t never gonna quit” tormenting her lovers.  The title cut rocks out as Bob’s life story of sorts, stating “I was born into pain,” and “if you lived my life, you’d jump in front of a train!”  The Snakeman breaks out the big ol’ chromatic for a jaw-breaking instrumental, “Snake Byte,” and adds that touch of Chess Records spice to “Sugar Sweet” and “I’m Ready.”

Everyone gets a chance to shine on the minor-key Sam Maghett chestnut, “Every Night And Every Day,” while Bob and Snakeman do their best Cephas and Wiggins impersonations on the acoustic “Our Life,” as Bob laments his break-up, coming home “to my best friend, Mr. TV!”

We had two favorites, too.  Ya gotta admire Bob’s imagination, wanting to “Build Me A Woman who’ll be nineteen forever, with a heart of gold!”  And, Bob’s guitar frankly sizzles with intensity on the slow-burn slyness of “Outskirts Of Town,” with the immortal lyric, “we’ll have five little children and they’ll all look like me!!!”

Bob Lanza’s blues will buoy your spirits when you’re feeling good, and be your best friend thru the hard times.  Just sit back, listen, and let his guitar wash over you “Til’ The Pain Is Gone.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Gracie Curran and the High Falutin band review…January 10, 2014…

GRACIE CURRAN AND THE HIGH FALUTIN BAND

PROOF OF LOVE

VIZZABLE MUSIC

EVEN WITH THE RAIN–TAKE YOU WITH ME–JACK AND MARYJANE–ROCK AND A HARD PLACE–CAN’T GETTA–TOLD ME SO–BEEN ALL OVER–WEIGHT OF HER WORLD–WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE

2013 was a year-long wild ride for Gracie Curran And The High Falutin Band, indeed.  Their hometown of Boston, MA, voted them in at number 12 in that city’s Best Bands poll, and Alternate Root magazine had Gracie in their top 30 female vocalists.  Their debut album, “Proof Of Love,” was released in February, 2013, while they were competing in the IBC’s in Memphis, and the myriad of accolades has culminated in the band’s nomination for a Blues Music Award in the Best New Artist Debut category.

With a voice the caliber of Gracie’s, she’s bound to elicit comparisons to Etta James and Irma Thomas, and deservedly so.  Produced by Gracie and Richard Rosenblatt, these nine original cuts have a deeply-soulful groove that not only accommodates her outstanding vocal prowess, but the supporting cast as well.

She kicks off with some serious testifyin’, holding her head up thru the hardest of times, “Even With The Rain pourin’ down on me!”  That theme of a daily struggle just to keep your head above water is the story of “Can’t Getta,” with a highly-danceable groove.

We had several favorites, too.  Finding that one true love plays out in the soft, sexy ballad, “Take You With Me,” augmented by the Stax-like horn section. Gracie gets down and dirty with the story of lookin’ for love everywhere, “from Clarksdale to Tennessee,” entitled “Been All Over,” with a fiery solo from Tom Carroll and harp from Richard Rosenblatt.  And, sometimes no matter how hard you try, love still goes South.  when it does, Gracie finds it easy to give in to those universal painkillers, “Jack And MaryJane.’

The IBC’s have been the first step in successful careers in the blues for several artists, and Gracie Curran seems poised for a huge breakthrough.  Best of luck to Gracie and the High Falutin Band with “Proof Of Love” in the upcoming BMA’s!!  Until next time…  Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Hard Garden review,,,January 8, 2014…

HARD GARDEN

BLUE YONDER

HARD GARDEN MUSIC   HGM  004

I FEEL EVIL–DEPOT BLUES–HEY NOW MARY–PAPA’S IN THE JUKE JOINT–I CAN TELL–THE VALLEY–DANGEROUS–POUR ME ANOTHER–MAXIMUM INSECURITY (HG REMIX)–SHOWTIME!–DANGEROUS (SCUDDER REMIX)

Hailing from Seattle, the trio that comprise Hard Garden—Son Jack, Jr. on guitar and vocals, Michael Wilde on harp and vocals, and Garrett Williams on bass, keys and drums-take the grunge-inspired rock of that city and mixes it with the deepest, darkest blues of the Delta and the straight-up funk of James Brown.  The result is their brilliant debut, “Blue Yonder,” with its ten originals and one cover.

For a debut, this one takes traditional blues in a decidedly-different direction thru the extensive use of the percussive skills of Garrett and the booming, Doomsday vocals of Son Jack, Jr. That’s the thing that hits you first, in the ominous opener, “I Feel Evil.”  A young man’s coming-of-age at the hands of an overly-aggressive woman is documented in the acoustic-themed, marching beat of “Hey Now Mary,” while “Showtime!” explores the opposite end of the band’s wide spectrum, as it rides over Son’s quirky raps and Michael’s harp, and a horn section so funky you’ll expect to hear somebody shoutin’out to Maceo!!

Michael Wilde takes the vocal spotlight on one of the strongest, yet darkest, cuts on the set.  “The Valley” traces the lives of a family beset by the abandonment of the child by the father, and the subsequent suicidal tendencies of the mother.  The ending is tragic, in keeping with the song’s underlying thread of “it’ll all be better when I’m gone.”

We had two favorites, too.  Son’s deft picking on Son House’s “Depot Blues” is augmented by echo-effect vocals, Michael’s country-blues harp, and the hellhound-on-my-tail percussive strikes from Garrett. And, the demise of the American Dream is perhaps the best reason that “Papa’s In The Juke Joint shakin’ it down,” with its Hill-country vibe.

Hard Garden has taken the old-school blues and given them a decidedly-urban remix by way of the sounds of Seattle.  “Blue Yonder” screams for an encore, hopefully in the near future!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

Halley Devestern Band review..January 3, 2014

HALLEY DEVESTERN BAND

FABBO! BOFFO! SMASHO!

MUSCLE MEMORY–KANGAROO MOMMA–MONEY AINT TIME–TORE UP (FROM THE FLOOR UP)–BOIL–AMERICAN PAIN–CODE 9–THE JESUS I KNOW

With a voice as big and brassy as New Yorker Halley Devestern’s, the comparisons to Janis Joplin and Etta James are inevitable.   (And, yes, she has performed with Big Brother and the Holding Company!)  We are going to take it just a bit further, tho.  On her latest album, entitled “Fabbo!  Boffo1  Smasho!,” she mixes the unadulterated sassy strut of Janelle Monae with the quirky, spit-in-your-eye swagger of Neko Case.  And, the eight band originals herein combine all her influences, including rock, soul, blues, and a hefty dose of funk.

It’s that shot of funk that kicks off the proceedings, entitled “Muscle Memory.”  It’s a not-so-subtle shot at an ex-lover that is driven by a punched-up horn section.  “Boil” plays out over a thumping bass line and is reminiscent of classic Curtis Mayfield, as racism and the Right are taken to task.

She doesn’t stop there, tho.  “American Pain” looks at the quick-money hope of Vegas, with its endless “cups of quarters and a St. Jude candle,” as the house rakes in the remnants of their broken dreams.  She closes the set with the gospel fervor of “The Jesus I Know,” who “lets the kids play on his lawn,” and practices “be and let be.”

We had two favorites, too.  Edd Kalehoff adds organ over Halley’s vocals as she takes on those who worship the almighty dollar, reminding us all that “time may be money, but Money Ain’t Time!!”  And, perhaps the most infectious, good-time groove is laid down in “Tore Up (From The Floor Up!), a tale of excesses encountered by traveling musicians, including the “Johnnie Walker flu,” and losing one’s underwear!

Halley Devestern is able to convey her emotions thru her voice and the contents of the outstanding material that comprises “Fabbo! Boffo! Smasho!,” and blues fans reap the bounteous benefits!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.